Ep 212 – Job Seeker Application Scams and What to Look For

One of the most insidious problems job seekers have to deal with is application scams. It seems like there are as many scams out there as there are real jobs, and it can be really difficult to tell the difference. These scammers have different purposes, depending on the scam – to collect your information to use for identity theft, to get you to cash fraudulent checks or to wire or send money, and to get you to pay for services that don’t exist. And they’re everywhere – on Craigslist, legitimate job boards, on Facebook, and Twitter. The question is: How do job seekers know if a job is legit? 

Episode 212: Job Seeker Application Scams and What to Look For with Fareedah Shaheed  (@cyberfareedah) & Robert Raiford

According to a 2019 report, phishing attempts have grown 65% in the last year. They are costing businesses and individuals billions of dollars. I wanted to talk to not only a security expert but talk to the job seekers that are being impacted by these scams. These really came to my attention after seeing the countless job seekers from a job seeker Facebook community I’m a member of that has 40,000 members. 

I reached out to one of those group members who has encountered a number of scams but the one that hit home for him was from a recruiter who found him through LinkedIn. His name is Robert Raiford, and he’s one of our podcast guests today. Later in the show, I’ll be joined by security expert Fareedah Shaheed, so stick around through the end.

How Scammers Are Reaching Out to Job Seekers

There are a variety of ways that scammers are engaging and doing outreach to job seekers. Sometimes it’s a fake job posting or in Robert’s case a recruiter reached out to him via email after finding his profile on LinkedIn. Robert has some great insights into how crafty these scammers are getting and the lengths as a job seeker he has had to go to as part of his own research on the recruiter.

I wanted to have Robert share his point of view because I’m finding in my own conversations with recruiting and HR leaders that many don’t know how frequently these scams are happening to their candidate pool. It’s only later when HR is contacted by a candidate who is upset because no one contacted him/her and disappeared after the candidate provided their credit card information to purchase (and later be reimbursed) for office supplies and equipment.

Robert is in the job market for a contract or a full-time job, and as a contractor he is in the market for new projects on a regular basis more so than most job seekers. Because of this, he this he has encountered a large number of job search scammers.

How Employers Can Protect Themselves and Their Employment Brand

In the second part of our podcast interview, Fareedah shares how employers can protect themselves against scams, misrepresentation, and the impact on their business and employment brand. So many of these scammers are falsely misrepresenting an employer which could lead to a whole host of issues including negative press and publicity, as well as poor reviews on employer review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor.

Fareedah recommends that employers are open and transparent about their hiring process and provide job seekers with a way to easily contact them and engage to ask questions or follow up on the status of their job application. Doing so will alert employers to any scammers misrepresenting their brand, but also provide an easy and accessible way for job seekers to connect with someone from the organization to quickly answer any questions or concerns.

She also recommends for job seekers to not share personal information including your social security number and to be cautious when being asked to interview over text or Google chat instead of video interviewing or a traditional face to face or phone interview conversation.


I want to thank Robert Raiford for sharing his story with us today, as well as security expert Fareedah Shaheed for her tips on how to avoid job seeker application scams. I think the best advice is to listen to your instinct – if it doesn’t feel right, check it out thoroughly. A legitimate company will never ask you to pay for something during your application process or provide confidential personal information over the phone or chat. 

Connect with Fareedah on LinkedIn and Robert Raiford on LinkedIn.



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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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